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The XBox was Microsoft's big break into the world of video game consoles. Creating what was essentially a PS running on Windows architecture, the original XBox was considered a long shot to compete with major developers Sony and Nintendo. Today, however, the XBox 360 is one of the dominant platforms on the market.
Microsoft got their first taste for the console business when they helped develop the operating system for Sega's Dreamcast. Although much loved, the Dreamcast failed to catch on with the masses and Microsoft was free to pursue other avenues in the world of home gaming. Thus began the development of the XBox.
The XBox focused on providing a full multi-media package for its owners. With a hard drive included with every console, it provided options that its competitors the Playstation 2 and the Gamecube did not: the ability to download games, music, and videos directly to the machine. In addition, games could load faster by downloading game assets to the hard drive.
One of the few aspects Microsoft missed the boat on was the ability to market the device as a DVD player. Although the Xbox was more than capable of playing standard DVDs, it required the purchase of a separate remote control to activate the DVD player. Meanwhile, the PS2 was being marketed as the cheapest DVD player on the market, resulting in it becoming the top selling console in the United States.
Where the XBox really excelled over its competition was the world of online gaming. Microsoft understood that head to head, online gaming attracted the most hardcore and loyal crowds. PC games had been catering to the market for years. By including high speed internet connectivity out of the box, the XBox was able to tap into this market. Games like Halo 2 became multiplayer hits and completely changed the face of multiplayer console gaming.
The only American company manufacturing a console platform, the XBox has had difficulties catching on in Japan. As many of the more reliable game developers are exclusively based in Japan and primarily concerned with their home audience, Microsoft turned their attention to North American development companies. With a whole new generation of developers and game designers in their court, Microsoft's Xbox became one of the most innovative platforms for new games ever.
The XBox 360, the latest iteration of the XBox, is one of the top sellers in the world of video games. It has utterly crushed the Playstation 3, its closest competitor. Featuring a revamped XBox Live online service and state of the art graphics, the 360 is topping monthly game sales charts.
With a devoted fan base and top of the line developers, it looks like the XBox brand is here to stay.